Planning for COVID in 2021: 5 reasons to apply for OHTO’s Capital Projects funding program

Since COVID-19 arrived on the scene nearly one year ago, business owners have been inundated with numerous relief funding opportunities and resources geared specifically to support small business during this challenging time.  Every level of government has offered some form of supportive response to the ever-changing health restrictions, but few programs have provided financial aid to businesses who have made, or may still be required to make, significant physical modifications to their operations.  

The OHTO TRIP – Capital Projects funding program released January 15, 2021 provides tourism-dependent small businesses with up to 80% of eligible costs to a maximum of $20,000 in non-repayable funding. This program was created to offset capital expenses related to one-time modifications and/or re-opening costs, along with the implementation of health and safety protocols and digitization measures.

If you have made changes, or plan to make changes, to your business model and operations read on to discover five key features that might make this funding opportunity right for you!

  1. Finally, funding for capital expenses!

We are proud to have released funding opportunities for COVID-19 relief including our Digital Marketing Support Program and our TRIP – Partnership Program, but we frequently heard from our operators support is needed for physical retrofits they must complete to safely open to the public.  Until now our funding limitations excluded these capital expenses but the TRIP – Capital Projects stream provides this much needed financial support. 

In the funding world, this is indeed the golden egg. Need to build or expand a patio? This funding is for you. Do you need a building or space where your customers can do curbside pick-up, or are you hoping to modify your existing space to allow for contactless pick-up? TRIP – Capital Projects funding is for you.

2. It’s easy – seriously

We wouldn’t lie to you – applying for this funding is easy as clicking the link to the application page, filling in some basic information about your business and the expenses for this project clicking “submit.” Here’s what you will need have ready before you apply:Your Business Number and incorporation date (if applicable)

  • A copy of your 2019 Financial Statements
  • A copy of your commercial general liability insurance indicating coverage of at least $2 million
  • Copies of all receipts, invoices and/or quotes you are looking to submit for reimbursement
  • A brief 500-work summary detailing how the requested funds are to be used including a synopsis of how the project helped to protect jobs and the visitor experience.

3. Cost sharing never looked so good

You didn’t misread the introduction to this story – the TRIP – Capital Projects funding can provide up to 80% of eligible costs to a maximum of $20,000. In other words, if you have spent or plan to spend more than $25,000 on COVID-19 related retrofits you may be eligible for up to $20,000 back! The program doesn’t have a minimum project cost either.  If you spent $2,500 on a project you may be eligible for $2000 back!  It isn’t every day that cost sharing is offered at more than 50 per cent, this is a fantastic incentive to snap up this opportunity before it runs out.

4. It will encourage you to plan ahead (and behind)

These days anything that can help you prepare for what the future might hold is a good thing.  While none of us have a crystal ball, we can still brainstorm what changes we may need to make to our business model and operations, and take steps towards acting on those opportunities. This funding is all the encouragement you will need to start thinking about the future, and what could make a difference for your business.

But what if you’ve already spent money making alterations to your business operations for COVID-19? No problem, funding through the TRIP – Capital Projects stream is retroactive to June 1, 2020 and includes any expenses incurred up until Dec. 31, 2021 (with proof of payment).

5. Taking action feels good

Have you been playing the waiting game, thinking that if you can just hold out a little longer you’ll be okay? There’s logic to this approach – nothing lasts forever and it’s easy for us to dream and hope for a time when this virus is no longer in our lives. Unfortunately, this won’t help your business – in any time of crisis the best way to stay afloat is to keep moving. Its tough, and we get that, but we are here to support your effort.  

Let us help you to stay in motion. Apply today.

Have questions? Read a list of Frequently Asked Questions here or contact us for more information. We’re here to help.

Click here to read the full program guidelines so you can apply as soon as possible – applications are being accepted on an ongoing basis until Dec. 31, 2021, or until funding is depleted. Priority will be given to applications received before Jan. 31, 2021. Not all eligible projects are guaranteed acceptance.

If we’ve sold you on the program and you’re eager to apply, visit for more details and to access the program guidelines and online application.

Yours in tourism,

Nicole Whiting
Executive Director
Ontario’s Highlands Tourism Organization

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